Take Action To Keep GMOs Out Of Organic!

No GMOSource: Organic Consumers Association

When the DARK Act became law this summer, GMO labeling wasn't the only victim. Language included in the  DARK Act could also kill efforts to keep genetically modified organisms (GMOs) out of organic.

TAKE ACTION BEFORE NOV. 15: Sign this petition telling the National Organic Standards Board to keep genetically modified organisms out of certified 'USDA organic' food.

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) plays a key role in protecting the integrity of organics by keeping genetic modification out of organic. But that task is increasingly challenging as complex new genetic engineering techniques, some of which are referred to as GMO 2.0, come online.

Since 2013, the NOSB has been working on a proposal to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program (NOP) to keep newer techniques of genetic modification, like cloning, nanotechnology, synthetic biology and mutated microorganisms, out of organic.

The DARK Act could undo these efforts.

The DARK Act, officially referred to as National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, directs the Agriculture Secretary to "consider establishing consistency between the national bioengineered food disclosure standard established under this section and the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and any rules or regulations implementing that Act."

Written largey by, and for, corporations, the so-called National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard defines GMOs so narrowly that it would cover few if any of the GMOs commonly used to produce food today—let alone the latest techniques of genetic modification. "Establishing consistency" between the DARK Act and the organic laws could open the floodgates for GMOs to be allowed in organics.

The DARK Act provision that would allow GMOs in organic didn't come from Monsanto alone. The effort was coordinated by none other than the Organic Trade Association (OTA). How do we know that? OTA board member Melody Meyer (who represents UNFI, the largest U.S. distributor of natural and organic products) said as much, in a blog post where argued that gene editing should be allowed in organic.

TAKE ACTION BEFORE NOV. 15: Sign this petition telling the National Organic Standards Board to keep genetically modified organisms out of certified 'USDA organic' food.

Background

When the NOSB meets in St. Louis, November 16-18, it will consider a proposal to the National Organic Program (NOP) that would direct the NOP to give certifiers guidance on how to identify the genetic modification techniques that are known as "excluded methods" under the organic regulations.

The recommendation and, later, the NOP guidance, would clarify for certifiers how to interpret the excluded methods definition. Over the years, organic certifiers have pointed out ways in which the excluded methods definition is open to interpretation. Now, with so many new GMO technologies in the mix, organic certifiers have even more questions.

As a result, the NOSB is taking another look at the "excluded methods" definition and suggesting guidance to protect organics from the slew of new GMO technologies that don't belong in organic.

The current definition of "excluded methods" was written in 1995, before any genetically engineered crops had hit the market (only Monsanto's rBGH had been approved), and before scientists created the first cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep. The use of nanotechnology or synthetic biology in food production was still science fiction.

Advances in genetic engineering move quickly. It's not just crops that can be modified. A whole range of processed food ingredients are now commonly genetically engineered, including vitamins, enzymes, microorganisms and cultures.

In the U.S., no one safety tests or even catalogues these GMO ingredients, which makes it difficult for organic regulators to know what's out there or even what to look for. There have been questions as to how well organic inspectors and certifiers are able to enforce the "excluded methods" rule in such a rapidly changing landscape.

Are certifiers getting enough guidance from the NOP to keep the latest Frankenfoods out of organic?

The NOSB wants to know. At its next meeting, the Board will consider an "Excluded Methods Terminology" proposal.

The public is invited to comment. Please sign the following petition and add your own thoughts.

We encourage the National Organic Standards Board to continue its important work of crafting guidance that the National Organic Program can provide to certifiers to help them identify all "excluded methods," including the latest genetic modification techniques. This work is extremely important to keep genetically modified organisms out of organic.

 

The NOSB proposal must include a statement on the recently passed National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard Law. This new law directs the Agriculture Secretary to "consider establishing consistency between the national bioengineered food disclosure standard established under this section and the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and any rules or regulations implementing that Act."

 

The new law defines GMOs so narrowly that it would cover few if any of the GMOs commonly used to produce food today—let alone the latest techniques of genetic modification. "Establishing consistency" between this law and the organic law could open the floodgates for a wave of GMOs to be allowed in organics.

 

Please urge the Agriculture Secretary to reject Congress's suggestion to "consider establishing consistency between the national bioengineered food disclosure standard established under this section and the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and any rules or regulations implementing that Act."

 

The organic sector must reserve its right to define excluded methods and keep all forms of genetic engineering out of organic.

 

Thank you.

- See more at: https://action.organicconsumers.org/o/50865/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=19594#sthash.mhtokOau.dpuf

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